£350,000/week. Amidst all the hoopla surrounding David de Gea’s expiring contract worth £375k/week, Jadon Sancho often flies under the radar.
After two years of failed performances punctuated by many false dawns, it is time for Manchester United to be ruthless with Sancho and cut their losses.
The nifty winger arrived to much fanfare in a £73 million deal in the summer of 2021. United had chased him for more than a year by then. The transfer, when it finally happened, looked like the sort of game-changing move that catapults teams to titles.
He was part of the “transformative” transfer window which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got after finishing second the previous season.
Alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, he was supposed to help the team take the next step.
The team did take “a” next step. It just ended up being a huge one backward.
In all the chaos of last season, Sancho lost himself. The potential which made him the apple of the eye of European elites was replaced by a player who was afraid to take on his man.
Gone are the feints and shiftiness which made him a nightmare to deal with. In their place is a timid player afraid of trying things.
The raw stats tell their own story. Five goals and three assists in 38 games during the 2021/22 season as a forward is an unforgivable return.
Even if one writes that off as a season of upheaval, with Solskjaer, Michael Carrick, and Ralf Rangnick all trying their hand at stabilising the club, his performances in 2022/23 looked ominous for the future in all the wrong ways.
Seven goals and three assists in 41 appearances were the raw stats. There were no excuses. Erik ten Hag gave him time off to sort his mind out. He was tried as a No 10 to leverage his creative gifts. He was given an extended run in the team on the left wing at the expense of Marcus Rashford.
Worse than the raw stats was the eye test. He dithered on the ball, killing attacks with indecision. The Sancho who would thread the needle with his passes at Borussia Dortmund instead looked back to his fullback whenever he was in possession.
The player who was backed to get the Old Trafford crowd off their feet just incites groans of disappointment now.
No club can carry that type of player, especially when he is the second-highest wage-earner at the club. Even more so United, who are trying to navigate Financial Fair Play concerns while wanting to add to their budget.
Sancho could be one of the few players who might fetch them a decent return considering his age and the potential he showed previously. More importantly, his £350k/week wages will be a huge load off the payroll.
It is common to see a player flourishing in a specific system, at a specific team, or in a specific country. Maybe Sancho finds his footing again after leaving. That wouldn’t mean United did the wrong thing.
Sometimes, a change of scenery is all that’s needed. For United and Sancho, it should come now, before his value tanks further and he starts getting grouped with the likes of Anthony Martial- an unshiftable distressed asset on huge wages.
A lack of ruthlessness in the market has plagued the club for more than a decade. It should be rectified this summer, with Sancho leading the way.